Louis Philippe

Delta Kiss

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After the sonic experiments of Jean Renoir and Rainfall, Delta Kiss represented something of a return to the terra firma of tightly constructed pop songs. Which is not to denounce it as a retrograde step in any way. Rather there's a newfound crispness and economy to the arrangements -- for the first time in the hands of long-term collaborator Danny Manners -- that perfectly complement some of Louis Philippe's most felicitous songs to date. Opener "Like Any Other," which began life on Ivory Tower as a sketchy instrumental called "Perfume," blossoms here as one of its composer's most fully realized creations, its sinuous melody underscored by a beautiful, Asian-tinged setting for the Covent Garden String Quartet. Even further removed from the humdrum bustle of rock & roll is "Evenings Fall," a twilight meditation on mortality whose intricately serried chorales spiral heavenward. Yet the Louis Philippe who penned pop confections like "You Mary You" only seven years earlier is also well represented on Delta Kiss. Few songs in the pop canon, for instance, are guaranteed to brighten your day quite so breezily as the irresistible "A Paris," while "L'Aventure" is a deliciously corny Parisian waltz with a melody that sounds like it's weathered the centuries. A further departure is provided by a sprightly version of the Jim Pepper classic, based on a Sioux war chant, "Witch-Tai-To," while the album concludes -- like Yuri Gagarin -- with another soaring evocation of a child's dream of space travel in "Destination Moon." If some of the other songs don't quite measure up, it's only because Philippe was starting to hit the kind of stratospheric heights of invention that makes consistency impossible. Certainly there's enough timeless beauty on Delta Kiss to ensure that it outlasts most of the albums that outsold it a hundred times over.

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